Volunteers sought for butterfly survey

The Northern Brown Argus butterfly on its food plant Rock-rose.
The Northern Brown Argus butterfly on its food plant Rock-rose.

The recent good spell of weather seems to have suited my garden nesters. The first box of blue tits, which was on the shed, fledged successfully on June 12.

I think there were about five chicks and all seemed to make it out of the box. I did however, find a dead one on the lawn a few days later, but it may not have been one from that box.

The other box is situated on trellis just outside the patio window and also contains blue tits and I reckon it is about two weeks behind the other one.

Its situation allows for much better observation, from the comfort of an armchair indoors, and I was absolutely stunned at the work rate of these tiny birds.

Last weekend the brood must have been getting quite large as I could hear them calling and consequently the parents’ feeding rate went up a gear. I timed them getting a feed every 30 seconds roughly and this went on from dawn till dusk.

Allowing for a slight slow-down in the middle of the day, this brood of around four or five was being fed well over a thousand times a day! The parents didn’t seem to travel far for their baby food, so I reckon most of it was coming from either mine or my neighbour’s garden.

Who needs to bother with pest control in your garden when you have two families of hungry blue tits hoovering up all the caterpillars!

The wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is looking for volunteers to help with an exciting survey for the Northern Brown Argus butterfly along the Yarrow Valley from now until early August.

This butterfly is a national priority for conservation effort and it’s known to be present at various sites in the valley.

The aim of the survey is to locate the areas which have the right grassland habitat with Rock-rose (essential as this is the only plant the caterpillars will eat) and also to count any butterflies seen.

This is an opportunity to explore some lovely countryside and to make a real contribution to conservation.

Lots of guidance and help are available to get you started - for more information contact Sarah Eno at saraheno@riseup.net.

This is your big chance to do something positive to help conserve a threatened species of wildlife in the Borders.